L.R. asks from Shawnee, KS on June 19, 2011
Pumping - Shawnee,KS
Ok - so I am having baby #2. I formula fed my first child. This time, I am debating between formula and pumping. I know the advantages of pumping and providing my baby my own breastmilk, so please, I do not need a lesson or a lecture on feeding your baby breastmilk. My problem is, I can't fathom having to pump my breasts (or attaching the baby to my breasts), and find it easier to formula feed. With me considering pumping, how do I convince myself to get past the whole pumping and not thinking I am a cow hooked up to a machine. I have read articles and watched videos, and it really bothers me in ways that I can't explain to anyone else.
Anyone have problems on wanting to formula feed vs pumping? If you chose pumping, how did you bring yourself to do it?
M.F. answers from Topeka on June 20, 2011
Your question made me chuckle b/c I'm currently nursing baby #3 (I've nursed all of mine up to 1 year) & I still sometimes feel like a cow--especially when I pump. I even look at my husband and say, "moo" sometimes. So I know exactly what you mean! That said, you just kind of do it & get used to it. Just know that a lot of people do it & it is normal, even though it seems weird. Whatever you decide, don't feel guilty, being a happy mom is the most important think you can give your baby :) Plenty of healthy babies are formula fed & plenty of healthy babies are breastfed. Sometimes it helps me to think of the money I'm saving by breastfeeding!
M.B. answers from St. Louis on June 20, 2011
I has issues with breastfeeding too, as I think many women do. But it was just one of those things I got used to. Did you ever think you could be naked and sweaty and in pain and performing a very intimate act (pushing out a baby) in front of a roomful of strangers? I used to get horribly anxious even at the idea of an OB visit, but it's just something you do a few times and it eventually feels like no big deal. With my second baby, who is a good eater, it even feels natural.
Best if luck whatever you decide and don't beat yourself up!
R.J. answers from St. Louis on June 21, 2011
Hi L. - good luck with your decision...it's a personal one for sure. It seems weird before you do it, but once you start nursing, and you and baby get the hang of it, it's quick, easy, and I found it relaxing. I'm not a fan of pumping (extra dishes, feeling like a cow, etc), but I went back to work, I did it for as long as my supply allowed (6-8 months is when I couldn't pretend to keep up anymore) and then went to formula. Good luck, and congrats on your next bundle!
J.R. answers from Kansas City on June 20, 2011
3 of mine were great nursers and one wouldn't latch no matter what, so I solely pumped for her (super lame). Nursing/pumping is pretty easy but both have drawbacks as well; privacy, time consuming etc. I was adamant about the breast milk thing so formula was not an option. The first time I put my first child to my boob - I was like "whoa, is this right?" By the time we left the hospital it was like 2nd nature and I never looked back. Pumping is just weird in general, but again it becomes a necessity if you work or ever plan on going out w/o the baby. : ) I pumped A LOT and froze A LOT so when they began to ween I could introduce milk to them in stages and not all at once. In the end do what's right for you and your family, not what you think you "should" do...
L.H. answers from Columbia on June 20, 2011
I am not going to tell you one way or the other what you should do, that is your decision! For me it was a wonderful experience, my son was a great nurser and I had a great supply. Neither nursing or pumping was hard on me. It helped me loose the baby weight and have a great connection with my son. For me nursing was natural and what I needed/wanted to do. I only stopped because I had to start taking medication that could not be taken while breastfeeding. My son didn't care, he just wanted to eat. If we have more children they too will be breastfed. I feel like it is something I can give them that my husband can't. Plus it does save a lot of money when you think about it. (And goes with you everywhere you go. No need to try and remember the bottle and formula.)
I suggest that you read the book "So That's What They're For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide" by Janet Tamaro. It is not a book that lectures you on the benefits of breastfeeding. It gives you straight forward information in a very non-medical fashion. It is full of experiences by other women and straight forward advice. There are stories from women that weren't sure they wanted to breastfeed and are glad they did. There are other stories from women that wanted to breastfeed but just couldn't do it for one reason or another. The author gives pointers for almost any situation you might encounter while breastfeeding. (including the feeling of being a cow hooked to a machine)
While no one can FORCE you to breastfeed your little one, you know the benefits. I encourage you to at least try it. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. You might find that you enjoy it and that your little one does too.
I hope that you get some helpful advice and information. It really is a wonderful experience.
K.L. answers from St. Louis on June 20, 2011
This is not a lecture - just information and a couple of suggestions.
I have known women with this same feeling and I appreciate your dilemma. I did a bit of pumping, but it was decades ago and we did not have good equipment for it then. It was awkward for me, too. But, I have come to understand some of the reason my instincts moved me away from pumping and to simply letting the baby nurse. Yes, the baby does benefit from breast milk alone, but also from the attachment of actually breast feeding. I'm not sure why this is not common knowledge yet, but we have known for some time that when a baby is actually nursing the breast, the babies brain wave patterns entrain exactly to the mother's brainwave patterns. We learned this by doing an EEG on both the baby and the mother. As soon as the baby began nursing, the EEG results became identical. We still have much to learn about healthy brain development, but this certainly appears to be a key understanding.
As I see it, if you have to be away from the baby and would need to pump just to be able to nurse the baby when you are able to, it may be worth the effort for a variety of developmental reasons.
But, some people have very strong feelings and compulsions and you have to assess how strong your feelings are and how you might go about overcoming them. Don't let yourself get caught up in self-blame and guilt. Women who do that are not very effective mothers. You need to be honest about whether or not you can at least bring yourself to experiment with the idea of nursing. You might consider seeking counseling or learning EFT if the feelings you have are overwhelming. I knew one woman who could not stop thinking of her own milk as other bodily fluids like mucus and urine and was totally repulsed by the idea of letting her sweet baby suckle her breast. Those are strong feelings to overcome and if she is not able to do so, we have to wonder what effect those feelings might have on the child who is trying to attach to her. It is possible that if she could have brought herself to experiment, she might have found the experience far more pleasant than she had imagined. But, no amount of information helped her overcome the strong aversion she felt.
The one thing you might want to consider is that if you go straight to formulae, you will not have the option later to change your mind. If you do decide to at least experiment with breast feeding and do find you cannot resolve the issues you have, you can always switch to formulae.
Whatever your decision, remember that good information is helpful, but love helps us make better decisions that fear does. So, be gentle with yourself as well as with your babies!
S.H. answers from Kansas City on June 20, 2011
I pumped for just short of a year (DD would not nurse, even after help from an LC, etc.) and, IMHO, unless you are bound and determined that your child get breastmilk, frankly, I would just go w/ the formula. I WAS determined, had a fantastic supply, etc., and it was still incredibly difficult. I feel like I spent most of DD's 1st year in another room away from her, hooked up to that hateful machine. I constantly felt not just like a cow but also like an absentee mother.
While I know that getting breastmilk was good for DD, I can't help but think that it might have actually been better for her to just have a mom there.
J.T. answers from St. Louis on June 20, 2011
You already have some great answers. Just to add my experiences...I think the whole thing is very strange, even after nursing 3 kids. I had a singleton and had issues and stopped after I went back to work at 4 months. She gave me fits sometimes! My twins were much easier and it turned out to be much easier than making and cleaning bottles every day. I hated hated pumping (which I did for one feeding a day or to make extra milk if I was going to be away) but the fact that I was saving money was actually the biggest driver. I quit my job when they were born so we were saving everywhere we could. I was able to do it a year and it was so much easier than making bottles, as I said, and once they got down to four feedings a day it was really a more efficient process than the bottles. But I agree that you should do what you are comfortable with. Oh going from barely a B to DD boobs was nice, too. LOL Good luck!